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Selections from the Speeches and Writings of Edmund Burke. by Edmund Burke

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that this our corporate fealty and homage, that this our recognition of
a signiory paramount, I had almost said this oblation of the state
itself, as a worthy offering on the high altar of universal praise,
should be performed as all public, solemn acts are performed, in
buildings, in music, in decoration, in speech, in the dignity of
persons, according to the customs of mankind, taught by their nature;
that is, with modest splendour and unassuming state, with mild majesty
and sober pomp. For those purposes they think some part of the wealth of
the country is as usefully employed as it can be, in fomenting the
luxury of individuals. It is the public ornament. It is the public
consolation. It nourishes the public hope. The poorest man finds his own
importance and dignity in it, whilst the wealth and pride of individuals
at every moment makes the man of humble rank and fortune sensible of his
inferiority, and degrades and vilifies his condition. It is for the man
in humble life, and to raise his nature, and to put him in mind of a
state in which the privileges of opulence will cease, when he will be
equal by nature, and may be more than equal by virtue, that this portion
of the general wealth of his country is employed and sanctified.

I assure you I do not aim at singularity. I give you opinions which have
been accepted amongst us, from very early times to this moment, with a
continued and general approbation, and which indeed are so worked into
my mind, that I am unable to distinguish what I have learned from others
from the results of my own meditation.

It is on some such principles that the majority of the people of
England, far from thinking a religious national establishment unlawful,
hardly think it lawful to be without one. In France you are wholly
mistaken if you do not believe us above all other things attached to it,
and beyond all other nations; and when this people has acted unwisely
and unjustifiably in its favour (as in some instances they have done
most certainly) in their very errors you will at least discover their

This principle runs through the whole system of their polity. They do
not consider their church establishment as convenient, but as essential
to their state; not as a thing heterogeneous and inseparable; something
added for accommodation; what they may either keep or lay aside,
according to their temporary ideas of convenience. They consider it as
the foundation of their whole constitution, with which, and with every
part of which, it holds an indissoluble union. Church and state are
ideas inseparable in their minds, and scarcely is the one ever mentioned
without mentioning the other.

(In preparing these pages for publication, the selector has discovered
how unconsciously he was indebted to the intellectual inspiration of
Burke, in the following extract:--

"Founded in Christ, and by Apostles form'd,
Glory of England! oh, my Mother Church,
Hoary with time, but all untouched in creed,
Firm to thy Master, by as fond a grasp
Of faith as Luther, with his free-born mind
Clung to Emmanuel,--doth thy soul remain.
But yet around Thee scowls a fierce array
Of Foes and Falsehoods; must'ring each their powers,
Triumphantly. And well may thoughtful Hearts
Heave with foreboding swell and heavy fears,
To mark, how mad opinion doth infect
Thy children; how thine apostolic claims
And love maternal are regarded now,
By creedless Vanity, or careless Vice.
For time there was, when peerless Hooker wrote,
And deep-soul'd Bacon taught the world to think,
When thou wert paramount,--thy cause sublime!
And in THY life, all Polity and Powers
The throne securing, or in law enshrined,
With all estates our balanced Realm contains,
In thee supreme, a master-virtue own'd
And honour'd. Church and State could then co-work,
Like soul and body in one breathing Form
Distinct, but undivided; each with rule
Essential to the kingdom's healthful frame,
Yet BOTH, in unity august and good
Together, under Christ their living Head,
A hallow'd commonwealth of powers achieved.
But now, in evil times, sectarian Will
Would split the Body, and to sects reduce
Our sainted Mother of th'imperial Isles,
Which have for ages from Her bosom drank
Those truths immortal, Life and Conscience need.
But never may the rude assault of hearts
Self-blinded, or the autocratic pride
Of Reason, by no hallowing faith subdued,

One lock of glory from Her rev'rend head
Succeed in tearing: Love, and Awe, and Truth
Her doctrines preach, with apostolic force:
Her creed is Unity, her head is Christ,
Her Forms primeval, and her Creed divine,
And Catholic, that crowning name she wears."

"Luther," 6th edition 1852.


Instead of the religion and the law by which they were in a great
politic communion with the Christian world, they have constructed their
republic on three bases, all fundamentally opposite to those on which
the communities of Europe are built. Its foundation is laid in regicide,
in jacobinism, and in atheism; and it has joined to those principles a
body of systematic manners, which secures their operation.

If I am asked, how I would be understood in the use of these terms,
regicide, jacobinism, atheism, and a system of corresponding manners,
and their establishment? I will tell you:--


I call a commonwealth REGICIDE, which lays it down as a fixed law of
nature, and a fundamental right of man, that all government, not being a
democracy, is a usurpation. That all kings, as such, are usurpers; and
for being kings may and ought to be put to death, with their wives,
families, and adherents. The commonwealth which acts uniformly upon
those principles, and which, after abolishing every festival of
religion, chooses the most flagrant act of a murderous regicide treason
for a feast of eternal commemoration, and which forces all her people to
observe it--this I call REGICIDE BY ESTABLISHMENT.


Jacobinism is the revolt of the enterprising talents of a country
against its property. When private men form themselves into associations
for the purpose of destroying the pre-existing laws and institutions of
their country; when they secure to themselves an army, by dividing
amongst the people of no property the estates of the ancient and lawful
proprietors; when a state recognises those acts; when it does not make
confiscations for crimes, but makes crimes for confiscations; when it
has its principal strength, and all its resources, in such a violation
of property; when it stands chiefly upon such a violation, massacring by
judgments, or otherwise, those who make any struggle for their old legal
government, and their legal, hereditary, or acquired possessions--I call


I call it ATHEISM BY ESTABLISHMENT, when any state, as such, shall
not acknowledge the existence of God as a moral governor of the
world; when it shall offer to him no religious or moral
worship;--when it shall abolish the Christian religion by a regular
decree;--when it shall persecute with a cold, unrelenting, steady
cruelty, by every mode of confiscation, imprisonment, exile, and
death, all its ministers;--when it shall generally shut up or pull
down churches; when the few buildings which remain of this kind shall
be opened only for the purpose of making a profane apotheosis of
monsters, whose vices and crimes have no parallel amongst men, and
whom all other men consider as objects of general detestation, and
the severest animadversion of law. When, in the place of that
religion of social benevolence, and of individual self-denial, in
mockery of all religion, they institute impious, blasphemous,
indecent theatric rites, in honour of their vitiated, perverted
reason, and erect altars to the personification of their own
corrupted and bloody republic;--when schools and seminaries are
founded at the public expense to poison mankind, from generation to
generation, with the horrible maxims of this impiety;--when wearied
out with incessant martyrdom, and the cries of a people hungering and
thirsting for religion, they permit it only as a tolerated evil--I


When to these establishments of regicide, of jacobinism, and of atheism,
you add the CORRESPONDENT SYSTEM OF MANNERS, no doubt can be left on the
mind of a thinking man concerning their determined hostility to the
human race. Manners are of more importance than laws. Upon them, in a
great measure, the laws depend. The law touches us but here and there,
and now and then. Manners are what vex or soothe, corrupt or purify,
exalt or debase, barbarize or refine us, by a constant, steady, uniform,
insensible operation, like that of the air we breathe in. They give
their whole form and colour to our lives. According to their quality,
they aid morals, they supply them, or they totally destroy them. Of this
the new French legislators were aware; therefore, with the same method,
and under the same authority, they settled a system of manners, the most
licentious, prostitute, and abandoned that ever has been known, and at
the same time the most coarse, rude, savage, and ferocious. Nothing in
the Revolution, no, not to a phrase or gesture, not to the fashion of a
hat or a shoe, was left to accident. All has been the result of design;
all has been matter of institution. No mechanical means could be devised
in favour of this incredible system of wickedness and vice, that has not
been employed. The noblest passions, the love of glory, the love of
country, have been debauched into means of its preservation and its
propagation. All sorts of shows and exhibitions, calculated to inflame
and vitiate the imagination, and pervert the moral sense, have been
contrived. They have sometimes brought forth five or six hundred drunken
women, calling at the bar of the Assembly for the blood of their own
children, as being royalists or constitutionalists. Sometimes they have
got a body of wretches, calling themselves fathers, to demand the murder
of their sons, boasting that Rome had but one Brutus, but that they
could show five hundred. There were instances in which they inverted,
and retaliated the impiety, and produced sons, who called for the
execution of their parents. The foundation of their republic is laid in
moral paradoxes. Their patriotism is always prodigy. All those instances
to be found in history, whether real or fabulous, of a doubtful public
spirit, at which morality is perplexed, reason is staggered, and from
which affrighted nature recoils, are their chosen, and almost sole
examples for the instruction of their youth.

The whole drift of their institution is contrary to that of the wise
legislators of all countries, who aimed at improving instincts into
morals, and at grafting the virtues on the stock of the natural
affections. They, on the contrary, have omitted no pains to eradicate
every benevolent and noble propensity in the mind of men. In their
culture it is a rule always to graft virtues on vices. They think
everything unworthy of the name of public virtue, unless it indicates
violence on the private. All their new institutions (and with them
everything is new) strike at the root of our social nature. Other
legislators, knowing that marriage is the origin of all relations, and
consequently the first element of all duties, have endeavoured, by every
art, to make it sacred. The Christian religion, by confining it to the
pairs, and by rendering that relation indissoluble, has by these two
things done more towards the peace, happiness, settlement, and
civilization of the world, than by any other part in this whole scheme
of Divine Wisdom. The direct contrary course has been taken in the
synagogue of antichrist, I mean in that forge and manufactury of all
evil, the sect which predominated in the Constituent Assembly of 1789.
Those monsters employed the same, or greater industry, to desecrate and
degrade that state, which other legislators have used to render it holy
and honourable.


As to those whom they suffer to die a natural death, they do not
permit them to enjoy the last consolations of mankind, or those
rights of sepulture, which indicate hope, and which mere nature has
taught to mankind, in all countries, to soothe the afflictions, and
to cover the infirmity, of mortal condition. They disgrace men in the
entry into life, they vitiate and enslave them through the whole
course of it, and they deprive them of all comfort at the conclusion
of their dishonoured and depraved existence. Endeavouring to persuade
the people that they are no better than beasts, the whole body of
their institution tends to make them beasts of prey, furious and
savage. For this purpose the active part of them is disciplined into
a ferocity which has no parallel. To this ferocity there is joined
not one of the rude, unfashioned virtues, which accompany the vices,
where the whole are left to grow up together in the rankness of
uncultivated nature. But nothing is left to nature in their systems.

The same discipline which hardens their hearts relaxes their morals.
Whilst courts of justice were thrust out by revolutionary tribunals, and
silent churches were only the funeral monuments of departed religion,
there were no fewer than nineteen or twenty theatres, great and small,
most of them kept open at the public expense, and all of them crowded
every night. Among the gaunt, haggard forms of famine and nakedness,
amidst the yells of murder, the tears of affliction, and the cries of
despair, the song, the dance, the mimic scene, the buffoon laughter,
went on as regularly as in the gay hour of festive peace. I have it from
good authority, that under the scaffold of judicial murder, and the
gaping planks that poured down blood on the spectators, the space was
hired out for a show of dancing dogs. I think, without concert, we have
made the very same remark on reading some of their pieces, which being
written for other purposes, let us into a view of their social life. It
struck us that the habits of Paris had no resemblance to the finished
virtues, or to the polished vice, and elegant, though not blameless,
luxury, of the capital of a great empire. Their society was more like
that of a den of outlaws upon a doubtful frontier; of a lewd tavern for
the revels and debauches of banditti, assassins, bravos, smugglers, and
their more desperate paramours, mixed with bombastic players, the refuse
and rejected offal of strolling theatres, puffing out ill-sorted verses
about virtue, mixed with the licentious and blasphemous songs, proper to
the brutal and hardened course of life belonging to that sort of
wretches. This system of manners in itself is at war with all orderly
and moral society, and is in its neighbourhood unsafe. If great bodies
of that kind were anywhere established in a bordering territory, we
should have a right to demand of their governments the suppression of
such a nuisance.


Should we not obtest Heaven, and whatever justice there is yet on earth?
Oppression makes wise men mad; but the distemper is still the madness of
the wise, which is better than the sobriety of fools. The cry is the
voice of sacred misery, exalted not into wild raving, but into the
sanctified frenzy of prophecy and inspiration--in that bitterness of
soul, in that indignation of suffering virtue, in that exaltation of
despair, would not persecuted English loyalty cry out, with an awful
warning voice, and denounce the destruction that waits on monarchs, who
consider fidelity to them as the most degrading of all vices; who suffer
it to be punished as the most abominable of all crimes; and who have no
respect but for rebels, traitors, regicides, and furious negro slaves,
whose crimes have broken their chains? Would not this warm language of
high indignation have more of sound reason in it, more of real
affection, more of true attachment, than all the lullabies of
flatterers, who would hush monarchs to sleep in the arms of death.


There is one thing in this business which appears to be wholly
unaccountable, or accountable on a supposition I dare not entertain
for a moment. I cannot help asking, Why all this pains, to clear the
British nation of ambition, perfidy, and the insatiate thirst of war?
At what period of time was it that our country has deserved that load
of infamy, of which nothing but preternatural humiliation in language
and conduct can serve to clear us? If we have deserved this kind of
evil fame from anything we have done in a state of prosperity, I am
sure that it is not an abject conduct in adversity than can clear our
reputation. Well is it known that ambition can creep as well as soar.
The pride of no person in a flourishing condition is more justly to
be dreaded, than that of him who is mean and cringing under a
doubtful and unprosperous fortune. But it seems it was thought
necessary to give some out-of-the-way proofs of our sincerity, as
well as of our freedom from ambition. Is then fraud and falsehood
become the distinctive character of Englishmen? Whenever your enemy
chooses to accuse you of perfidy and ill faith, will you put it into
his power to throw you into the purgatory of self-humiliation? Is his
charge equal to the finding of the grand jury of Europe, and
sufficient to put you upon your trial? But on that trial I will
defend the English ministry. I am sorry that on some points I have,
on the principles I have always opposed, so good a defence to make.
(The Editor has ventured to print these lines in italics, because it
appears, while this selection from Burke is preparing for the press,
an inflated demagogue has not only dared to deny the claims of the
duke of Wellington to be the Hero of a nation's heart, but has also
accused the illustrious Burke of misrepresenting historical facts
connected with our war in the French revolution. On which side both
the truth and integrity of history are to be found, may safely be
left to the moral decision of men who do NOT look at History through
the exclusive medium of the market, and in listening to the voice of
instruction are, at least, enabled to distinguish the bray of an ass
from the peal of a trumpet.) Is it not true, that they were the first
to declare war upon this kingdom? Is every word in the declaration
from Downing-Street, concerning their conduct, and concerning ours
and that of our allies, so obviously false, that it is necessary to
give some new-invented proofs of our good faith in order to expunge
the memory of all this perfidy?


A king without authority; nobles without union or subordination; a
people without arts, industry, commerce, or liberty; no order within,
no defence without; no effective public force, but a foreign force,
which entered a naked country at will, and disposed of everything at
pleasure. Here was a state of things which seemed to invite, and
might perhaps justify, bold enterprise and desperate experiment. But
in what manner was this chaos brought into order? The means were as
striking to the imagination, as satisfactory to the reason, and
soothing to the moral sentiments. In contemplating that change,
humanity has everything to rejoice and to glory in; nothing to be
ashamed of, nothing to suffer. So far as it has gone, it probably is
the most pure and defecated public good which ever has been conferred
on mankind. We have seen anarchy and servitude at once removed; a
throne strengthened for the protection of the people, without
trenching on their liberties; all foreign cabal banished, by changing
the crown from elective to hereditary; and what was a matter of
pleasing wonder, we have seen a reigning king, from an heroic love to
his country, exerting himself with all the toil, the dexterity, the
management, the intrigue, in favour of a family of strangers, with
which ambitious men labour for the aggrandizement of their own. Ten
millions of men in a way of being freed gradually, and therefore
safely to themselves and the state, not from civil or political
chains, which, bad as they are, only fetter the mind, but from
substantial personal bondage. Inhabitants of cities, before without
privileges, placed in the consideration which belongs to that
improved and connecting situation of social life. One of the most
proud, numerous, and fierce bodies of nobility and gentry ever known
in the world, arranged only in the foremost rank of free and generous
citizens. Not one man incurred loss, or suffered degradation. All,
from the king to the day-labourer, were improved in their condition.
Everything was kept in its place and order; but in that place and
order everything was betterd. To add to this happy wonder (this
unheard-of conjunction of wisdom and fortune), not one drop of blood
was spilled; no treachery; no outrage; no system of slander more
cruel than the sword; no studied insults on religion, morals, or
manners; no spoil; no confiscation; no citizen beggared; none
imprisoned; none exiled: the whole was effected with a policy, a
discretion, a unanimity and secrecy, such as have never been before
known on any occasion; but such wonderful conduct was reserved for
this glorious conspiracy in favour of the true and genuine rights and
interests of men. Happy people, if they know how to proceed as they
have begun! Happy prince, worthy to begin with splendour, or to close
with glory, a race of patriots and of kings: and to leave

"A name, which ev'ry wind to heav'n would bear,
Which men to speak, and angels joy to hear."

To finish all--this great good, as in the instant it is, contains in it
the seeds of all further improvement, and may be considered as in a
regular progress, because founded on similar principles, towards the
stable excellency of a British constitution.

Here was a matter for congratulation and for festive remembrance through
ages. Here moralists and divines might indeed relax in their temperance,
to exhilarate their humanity. But mark the character of our faction. All
their enthusiasm is kept for the French revolution. They cannot pretend
that France had stood so much in need of a change as Poland. They cannot
pretend that Poland has not obtained a better system of liberty, or of
government, than it enjoyed before. They cannot assert, that the Polish
revolution cost more dearly than that of France to the interests and
feelings of multitudes of men. But the cold and subordinate light in
which they look upon the one, and the pains they take to preach up the
other of these revolutions, leave us no choice in fixing on their
motives. Both revolutions profess liberty as their object; but in
obtaining this object the one proceeds from anarchy to order; the other
from order to anarchy. The first secures its liberty by establishing its
throne; the other builds its freedom on the subversion of its monarchy.
In the one their means are unstained by crimes, and their settlement
favours morality. In the other, vice and confusion are in the very
essence of their pursuit, and of their enjoyment. The circumstances in
which these two events differ, must cause the difference we make in
their comparative estimation. These turn the scale with the societies in
favour of France. Ferrum est quod amant. The frauds, the violences, the
sacrileges, the havoc and ruin of families, the dispersion and exile of
the pride and flower of a great country, the disorder, the confusion,
the anarchy, the violation of property, the cruel murders, the inhuman
confiscations, and in the end the insolent domination of bloody,
ferocious, and senseless clubs--these are the things which they love and
admire. What men admire and love, they would surely act. Let us see what
is done in France; and then let us undervalue any the slightest danger
of falling into the hands of such a merciless and savage faction!


In the long series of ages which have furnished the matter of
history, never was so beautiful and so august a spectacle presented
to the moral eye, as Europe afforded the day before the revolution in
France. I knew indeed that this prosperity contained in itself the
seeds of its own danger. In one part of the society it caused laxity
and debility; in the other it produced bold spirits and dark designs.
A false philosophy passed from academies into courts; and the great
themselves were infected with the theories which conducted to their
ruin. Knowledge, which in the two last centuries either did not exist
at all, or existed solidly on right principles and in chosen hands,
was now diffused, weakened, and perverted. General wealth loosened
morals, relaxed vigilance, and increased presumption. Men of talent
began to compare, in the partition of the common stock of public
prosperity, the proportions of the dividends with the merits of the
claimants. As usual, they found their portion not equal to their
estimate (or perhaps to the public estimate) of their own worth. When
it was once discovered by the revolution in France, that a struggle
between establishment and rapacity could be maintained, though but
for one year, and in one place, I was sure that a practicable breach
was made in the whole order of things and in every country. Religion,
that held the materials of the fabric together, was first
systematically loosened. All other opinions, under the name of
prejudices, must fall along with it; and property, left undefended by
principles, became a repository of spoils to tempt cupidity, and not
a magazine to furnish arms for defence. I knew that, attacked on all
sides by the infernal energies of talents set in action by vice and
disorder, authority could not stand upon authority alone. It wanted
some other support than the poise of its own gravity. Situations
formerly supported persons. It now became necessary that personal
qualities should support situations. Formerly, where authority was
found, wisdom and virtue were presumed. But now the veil was torn,
and, to keep off sacrilegious intrusion, it was necessary that in the
sanctuary of government something should be disclosed not only
venerable, but dreadful. Government was at once to show itself full
of virtue and full of force. It was to invite partisans, by making it
appear to the world that a generous cause was to be asserted; one fit
for a generous people to engage in. From passive submission was it to
expect resolute defence? No! It must have warm advocates and
passionate defenders, which a heavy, discontented acquiescence never
could produce. What a base and foolish thing is it for any
consolidated body of authority to say, or to act as if it said, "I
will put my trust not in my own virtue, but in your patience; I will
indulge in effeminacy, in indolence, in corruption; I will give way
to all my perverse and vicious humours, because you cannot punish me
without the hazard of ruining yourselves?"


Disappointment and mortification undoubtedly they feel; but to them,
repentance is a thing impossible. They are atheists. This wretched
opinion, by which they are possessed even to the height of fanaticism,
leading them to exclude from their ideas of a commonwealth the vital
principle of the physical, the moral, and the political world, engages
them in a thousand absurd contrivances to fill up this dreadful void.
Incapable of innoxious repose, or honourable action, or wise
speculation, in the lurking-holes of a foreign land, into which (in a
common ruin) they are driven to hide their heads amongst the innocent
victims of their madness, they are at this very hour as busy in the
confection of the dirt-pies of their imaginary constitutions, as if they
had not been quite fresh from destroying, by their impious and desperate
vagaries, the finest country upon earth.


The English people are satisfied, that to the great the consolations
of religion are as necessary as its instructions. They too are among
the unhappy. They feel personal pain, and domestic sorrow. In these
they have no privilege, but are subject to pay their full contingent
to the contributions levied on mortality. They want this sovereign
balm under their gnawing cares and anxieties, which, being less
conversant about the limited wants of animal life, range without
limit, and are diversified by infinite combinations in the wild and
unbounded regions of imagination. Some charitable dole is wanting to
these, our often very unhappy brethren, to fill the gloomy void that
reigns in minds which have nothing on earth to hope or fear;
something to relieve in the killing languor and over-laboured
lassitude of those who have nothing to do; something to excite an
appetite to existence in the palled satiety which attends on all
pleasures which may be bought, where nature is not left to her own
process, where even desire is anticipated, and therefore fruition
defeated by meditated schemes and contrivances of delight; and no
interval, no obstacle, is interposed between the wish and the

The people of England know how little influence the teachers of religion
are likely to have with the wealthy and powerful of long standing, and
how much less with the newly fortunate, if they appear in a manner no
way assorted to those with whom they must associate, and over whom they
must even exercise, in some cases, something like an authority. What
must they think of that body of teachers, if they see it in no part
above the establishment of their domestic servants? If the poverty were
voluntary, there might be some difference. Strong instances of
self-denial operate powerfully on our minds; and a man who has no wants
has obtained great freedom, and firmness, and even dignity. But as the
mass of any description of men are but men, and their poverty cannot be
voluntary, that disrespect, which attends upon all lay property, will
not depart from the ecclesiastical. Our provident constitution has
therefore taken care that those who are to instruct presumptuous
ignorance, those who are to be censors over insolent vice, should
neither incur their contempt, nor live upon their alms; nor will it
tempt the rich to a neglect of the true medicine of their minds. For
these reasons, whilst we provide first for the poor, and with a parental
solicitude, we have not relegated religion (like something we were
ashamed to show) to obscure municipalities, or rustic villages. No! We
will have her to exalt her mitred front in courts and parliaments. We
will have her mixed throughout the whole mass of life, and blended with
all the classes of society. The people of England will show to the
haughty potentates of the world, and to their talking sophisters, that a
free, a generous, an informed nation honours the high magistrates of its
church; that it will not suffer the insolence of wealth and titles, or
any other species of proud pretension, to look down with scorn upon what
they look up to with reverence; nor presume to trample on that acquired
personal nobility, which they intend always to be, and which often is,
the fruit, not the reward (for what can be the reward), of learning,
piety, and virtue. They can see, without pain or grudging, an archbishop
precede a duke. They can see a bishop of Durham, or a bishop of
Winchester, in possession of ten thousand pounds a year; and cannot
conceive why it is in worse hands than estates to the like amount in the
hands of this earl, or that squire; although it may be true, that so
many dogs and horses are not kept by the former, and fed with the
victuals which ought to nourish the children of the people. It is true,
the whole church revenue is not always employed, and to every shilling,
in charity; nor perhaps ought it; but something is generally so
employed. It is better to cherish virtue and humanity by leaving much to
free will, even with some loss to the object, than to attempt to make
men mere machines and instruments of a political benevolence. The world
on the whole will gain by a liberty, without which virtue cannot exist.

When once the commonwealth has established the estates of the church as
property, it can, consistently, hear nothing of the more or the less.
Too much and too little are treason against property. What evil can
arise from the quantity in any hand, whilst the supreme authority has
the full, sovereign superintendence over this, as over any property, to
prevent every species of abuse; and, whenever it notably deviates, to
give to it a direction agreeable to the purposes of its institution. In
England most of us conceive that it is envy and malignity towards those
who are often the beginners of their own fortune, and not a love of the
self-denial and mortification of the ancient church, that makes some
look askance at the distinctions, and honours, and revenues, which,
taken from no person, are set apart for virtue. The ears of the people
of England are distinguishing. They hear these men speak broad. Their
tongue betrays them. Their language is in the patois of fraud; in the
cant and gibberish of hypocrisy. The people of England must think so,
when these praters affect to carry back the clergy to that primitive,
evangelic poverty, which, in the spirit, ought always to exist in them
(and in us too, however we may like it), but in the thing must be
varied, when the relation of that body to the state is altered; when
manners, when modes of life, when indeed the whole order of human
affairs, has undergone a total revolution. We shall believe those
reformers then to be honest enthusiasts, not, as now we think them,
cheats and deceivers, when we see them throwing their own goods into
common, and submitting their own persons to the austere discipline of
the early church.


It is not worth our while to discuss, like sophisters, whether, in no
case, some evil, for the sake of some benefit, is to be tolerated.
Nothing universal can be rationally affirmed on any moral or any
political subject. Pure metaphysical abstraction does not belong to
these matters. The lines of morality are not like ideal lines of
mathematics. They are broad and deep as well as long. They admit of
exceptions; they demand modifications. These exceptions and
modifications are not made by the process of logic, but by the rules of
prudence. Prudence is not only the first in rank of the virtues
political and moral, but she is the director, the regulator, the
standard of them all. Metaphysics cannot live without definition; but
prudence is cautious how she defines. Our courts cannot be more fearful
in suffering fictitious cases to be brought before them for eliciting
their determination on a point of law, than prudent moralists are in
putting extreme and hazardous cases of conscience upon emergencies not
existing. Without attempting therefore to define, what never can be
defined, the case of a revolution in government, this, I think, may be
safely affirmed, that a sore and pressing evil is to be removed, and
that a good, great in its amount, and unequivocal in its nature, must be
probable almost to certainty, before the inestimable price of our own
morals, and the well-being of a number of our fellow-citizens, is paid
for a revolution. If ever we ought to be economists even to parsimony,
it is in the voluntary production of evil. Every revolution contains in
it something of evil.


The quality of the sentence does not however decide on the justice of
it. Angry friendship is sometimes as bad as calm enmity. For this reason
the cold neutrality of abstract justice is, to a good and clear cause, a
more desirable thing than an affection liable to be any way disturbed.
When the trial is by friends, if the decision should happen to be
favourable, the honour of the acquittal is lessened; if adverse, the
condemnation is exceedingly embittered. It is aggravated by coming from
lips professing friendship, and pronouncing judgment with sorrow and
reluctance. Taking in the whole view of life, it is more safe to live
under the jurisdiction of severe but steady reason, than under the
empire of indulgent but capricious passion. It is certainly well for Mr.
Burke that there are impartial men in the world. To them I address
myself, pending the appeal which on his part is made from the living to
the dead, from the modern Whigs to the ancient.


The unhappy Louis XVI. was a man of the best intentions that probably
ever reigned. He was by no means deficient in talents. He had a most
laudable desire to supply by general reading, and even by the
acquisition of elemental knowledge, an education in all points
originally defective; but nobody told him (and it was no wonder he
should not himself divine it) that the world of which he read, and
the world in which he lived, were no longer the same. Desirous of
doing everything for the best, fearful of cabal, distrusting his own
judgment, he sought his ministers of all kinds upon public testimony.
But as courts are the field for caballers, the public is the theatre
for mountebanks and imposters. The cure for both those evils is in
the discernment of the prince. But an accurate and penetrating
discernment is what in a young prince could not be looked for.

His conduct in its principle was not unwise; but, like most other of his
well-meant designs, it failed in his hands. It failed partly from mere
ill fortune, to which speculators are rarely pleased to assign that very
large share to which she is justly entitled in human affairs. The
failure, perhaps, in part was owing to his suffering his system to be
vitiated and disturbed by those intrigues, which it is, humanly
speaking, impossible wholly to prevent in courts, or indeed under any
form of government. However, with these aberrations, he gave himself
over to a succession of the statesmen of public opinion. In other things
he thought that he might be a king on the terms of his predecessors. He
was conscious of the purity of his heart, and the general good tendency
of his government. He flattered himself, as most men in his situation
will, that he might consult his ease without danger to his safety. It is
not at all wonderful that both he and his ministers, giving way
abundantly in other respects to innovation, should take up in policy
with the tradition of their monarchy. Under his ancestors the monarchy
had subsisted, and even been strengthened, by the generation or support
of republics. First, the Swiss republics grew under the guardianship of
the French monarchy. The Dutch republics were hatched and cherished
under the same incubation. Afterwards, a republican constitution was,
under the influence of France, established in the empire against the
pretensions of its chief. Even whilst the monarchy of France, by a
series of wars and negociations, and lastly, by the treaties of
Westphalia, had obtained the establishment of the Protestants in Germany
as a law of the empire, the same monarchy under Louis the Thirteenth,
had force enough to destroy the republican system of the Protestants at
home. Louis the Sixteenth was a diligent reader of history. But the very
lamp of prudence blinded him. The guide of human life led him astray. A
silent revolution in the moral world preceded the political, and
prepared it. It became of more importance than ever what examples were
given, and what measures were adopted. Their causes no longer lurked in
the recesses of cabinets, or in the private conspiracies of the
factious. They were no longer to be controlled by the force and
influence of the grandees, who formerly had been able to stir up
troubles by their discontents, and to quiet them by their corruption.
The chain of subordination, even in cabal and sedition, was broken in
its most important links. It was no longer the great and the populace.
Other interests were formed, other dependencies, other connections,
other communications. The middle classes had swelled far beyond their
former proportion. Like whatever is the most effectively rich and great
in society, these classes became the seat of all the active politics;
and the preponderating weight to decide on them. There were all the
energies by which fortune is acquired; there the consequence of their
success. There were all the talents which assert their pretensions, and
are impatient of the place which settled society prescribes to them.
These descriptions had got between the great and the populace; and the
influence on the lower classes was with them. The spirit of ambition had
taken possession of this class as violent as ever it had done of any
other. They felt the importance of this situation. The correspondence of
the monied and the mercantile world, the literary intercourse of
academies, but, above all, the press, of which they had in a manner
entire possession, made a kind of electric communication everywhere. The
press in reality has made every government, in its spirit, almost
democratic. Without it the great, the first movements in this Revolution
could not, perhaps, have been given. But the spirit of ambition, now for
the first time connected with the spirit of speculation, was not to be
restrained at will. There was no longer any means of arresting a
principle in its course. When Louis the Sixteenth, under the influence
of the enemies to monarchy, meant to found but one republic, he set up
two. When he meant to take away half the crown of his neighbour, he lost
the whole of his own. Louis the Sixteenth could not with impunity
countenance a new republic: yet between his throne and that dangerous
lodgment for an enemy, which he had erected, he had the whole Atlantic
for a ditch. He had for an outwork the English nation itself, friendly
to liberty, adverse to that mode of it. He was surrounded by a rampart
of monarchies, most of them allied to him, and generally under his
influence. Yet even thus secured, a republic erected under his auspices,
and dependent on his power, became fatal to his throne. The very money
which he had lent to support this republic, by a good faith, which to
him operated as perfidy, was punctually paid to his enemies, and became
a resource in the hands of his assassins.


If mere dissent from the church of Rome be a merit, he that dissents the
most perfectly is the most meritorious. In many points we hold strongly
with that church. He that dissents throughout with that church will
dissent with the church of England, and then it will be a part of his
merit that he dissents with ourselves:--a whimsical species of merit for
any set of men to establish. We quarrel to extremity with those who we
know agree with us in many things, but we are to be so malicious even in
the principle of our friendships, that we are to cherish in our bosom
those who accord with us in nothing, because whilst they despise
ourselves, they abhor, even more than we do, those with whom we have
some disagreement. A man is certainly the most perfect Protestant who
protests against the whole Christian religion. Whether a person's having
no Christian religion be a title to favour, in exclusion to the largest
description of Christians who hold all the doctrines of Christianity,
though holding along with them some errors and some superfluities, is
rather more than any man, who has not become recreant and apostate from
his baptism, will, I believe, choose to affirm. The countenance given
from a spirit of controversy to that negative religion may, by degrees,
encourage light and unthinking people to a total indifference to
everything positive in matters of doctrine; and, in the end, of practice
too. If continued, it would play the game of that sort of active,
proselytizing, and persecuting atheism, which is the disgrace and
calamity of our time, and which we see to be as capable of subverting a
government, as any mode can be of misguided zeal for better things.


To those who do not love to contemplate the fall of human greatness,
I do not know a more mortifying spectacle, than to see the assembled
majesty of the crowned heads of Europe waiting as patient suitors in
the antechamber of regicide. They wait, it seems, until the
sanguinary tyrant Carnot shall have snorted away the fumes of the
indigested blood of his sovereign. Then, when, sunk on the down of
usurped pomp, he shall have sufficiently indulged his meditations
with what monarch he shall next glut his ravening maw, he may
condescend to signify that it is his pleasure to be awake; and that
he is at leisure to receive the proposals of his high and mighty
clients for the terms on which he may respite the execution of the
sentence he has passed upon them. At the opening of those doors, what
a sight it must be to behold the plenipotentiaries of royal
impotence, in the precedency which they will intrigue to obtain, and
which will be granted to them according to the seniority of their
degradation, sneaking into the regicide presence, and with the relics
of the smile, which they had dressed up for the levee of their
masters, still flickering on their curled lips, presenting the faded
remains of their courtly graces, to meet the scornful, ferocious,
sardonic grin of a bloody ruffian, who, whilst he is receiving their
homage, is measuring them with his eye, and fitting to their size the
slider of his guillotine! These ambassadors may easily return as good
courtiers as they went; but can they ever return from that degrading
residence, loyal and faithful subjects; or with any true affection to
their master, or true attachment to the constitution, religion, or
laws of their country? There is great danger that they, who enter
smiling into this Trophonian cave, will come out of it sad and
serious conspirators; and such will continue as long as they live.
They will become true conductors of contagion to every country which
has had the misfortune to send them to the source of that
electricity. At best they will become totally indifferent to good and
evil, to one institution or another. This species of indifference is
but too generally distinguishable in those who have been much
employed in foreign courts; but in the present case the evil must be
aggravated without measure; for they go from their country, not with
the pride of the old character, but in a state of the lowest
degradation, and what must happen in their place of residence can
have no effect in raising them to the level of true dignity, or of
chaste self-estimation, either as men, or as representatives of
crowned heads.


As if war was a matter of experiment! As if you could take it up or lay
it down as an idle frolic! As if the dire goddess that presides over it,
with her murderous spear in hand, and her gorgon at her breast, was a
coquette to be flirted with! We ought with reverence to approach that
tremendous divinity, that loves courage, but commands counsel. War never
leaves where it found a nation. It is never to be entered into without
mature deliberation; not a deliberation lengthened out into a perplexing
indecision, but a deliberation leading to a sure and fixed judgment.
When so taken up, it is not to be abandoned without reason as valid, as
fully, and as extensively considered. Peace may be made as unadvisedly
as war. Nothing is so rash as fear; and the councils of pusillanimity
very rarely put off, whilst they are always sure to aggravate, the evils
from which they would fly.


There is no want of officers, that I have ever understood, for the new
ships which we commission, or the new regiments which we raise. In the
nature of things it is not with their persons, that the higher classes
principally pay their contingent to the demands of war. There is
another, and not less important part, which rests with almost exclusive
weight upon them. They furnish the means,

"How war may best upheld
Move by her two main nerves, iron and gold,
In all her equipage."

Not that they are exempt from contributing also by their personal
service in the fleets and armies of their country. They do contribute,
and in their full and fair proportion, according to the relative
proportion of their numbers in the community. They contribute all the
mind that actuates the whole machine. The fortitude required of them is
very different from the unthinking alacrity of the common soldier, or
common sailor, in the face of danger and death; it is not a passion, it
is not an impulse, it is not a sentiment; it is a cool, steady,
deliberate principle, always present, always equable; having no
connection with anger; tempering honour with prudence; incited,
invigorated, and sustained, by a generous love of fame; informed,
moderated, and directed by an enlarged knowledge of its own great public
ends; flowing in one blended stream from the opposite sources of the
heart and the head; carrying in itself its own commission, and proving
its title to every other command, by the first and most difficult
command, that of the bosom in which it resides: it is a fortitude, which
unites with the courage of the field the more exalted and refined
courage of the council; which knows as well to retreat, as to advance;
which can conquer as well by delay, as by the rapidity of a march, or
the impetuosity of an attack; which can be, with Fabius, the black cloud
that lowers on the tops of the mountains, or with Scipio, the
thunderbolt of war; which, undismayed by false shame, can patiently
endure the severest trial that a gallant spirit can undergo, in the
taunts and provocations of the enemy, the suspicions, the cold respect,
and "mouth-honour" of those, from whom it should meet a cheerful
obedience; which, undisturbed by false humanity, can calmly assume that
most awful moral responsibility of deciding, when victory may be too
dearly purchased by the loss of a single life, and when the safety and
glory of their country may demand the certain sacrifice of thousands.
Different stations of command may call for different modifications of
this fortitude; but the character ought to be the same in all. And
never, in the most "palmy state" of our martial renown, did it shine
with brighter lustre than in the present sanguinary and ferocious
hostilities, wherever the British arms have been carried.


It happens frequently that pride may reject a public advance, while
interest listens to a secret suggestion of advantage. The opportunity
has been afforded. At a very early period in the diplomacy of
humiliation, a gentleman was sent on an errand, of which, from the
motive of it, whatever the event might be, we can never be ashamed.
Humanity cannot be degraded by humiliation. It is its very character to
submit to such things. There is a consanguinity between benevolence and
humility. They are virtues of the same stock. Dignity is of as good a
race; but it belongs to the family of fortitude. In the spirit of that
benevolence we sent a gentleman to beseech the Directory of regicide not
to be quite so prodigal as their republic had been of judicial murder.
We solicited them to spare the lives of some unhappy persons of the
first distinction, whose safety at other times could not have been an
object of solicitation. They had quitted France on the faith of the
declaration of the rights of citizens. They never had been in the
service of the regicides, nor at their hands had received any stipend.
The very system and constitution of government that now prevails was
settled subsequently to their emigration. They were under the protection
of Great Britain, and in his majesty's pay and service. Not an hostile
invasion, but the disasters of the sea, had thrown them upon a shore
more barbarous and inhospitable than the inclement ocean under the most
pitiless of its storms. Here was an opportunity to express a feeling for
the miseries of war; and to open some sort of conversation, which (after
our public overtures had glutted their pride), at a cautious and jealous
distance, might lead to something like an accommodation. What was the
event? A strange uncouth thing, a theatrical figure of the opera, his
head shaded with three-coloured plumes, his body fantastically habited,
strutted from the back scenes, and, after a short speech, in the mock
heroic falsetto of stupid tragedy, delivered the gentleman who came to
make the representation into the custody of a guard, with directions not
to lose sight of him for a moment; and then ordered him to be sent from
Paris in two hours.


We have a vast interest to preserve, and we possess great means of
preserving it: but it is to be remembered that the artificer may be
encumbered by his tools, and that resources may be among impediments.
If wealth is the obedient and laborious slave of virtue and of public
honour, then wealth is in its place, and has its use: but if this
order is changed, and honour is to be sacrificed to the conservation
of riches,--riches, which have neither eyes nor hands, nor anything
truly vital in them, cannot long survive the being of their vivifying
powers, their legitimate masters, and their potent protectors. If we
command our wealth, we shall be rich and free: if our wealth command
us, we are poor indeed. We are bought by the enemy with the treasure
from our own coffers. Too great a sense of the value of a subordinate
interest may be the very source of its danger, as well as the certain
ruin of interests of a superior order. Often has a man lost his all
because he would not submit to hazard all in defending it. A display
of our wealth before robbers is not the way to restrain their
boldness, or to lessen their rapacity. This display is made, I know,
to persuade the people of England that thereby we shall awe the
enemy, and improve the terms of our capitulation: it is made, not
that we should fight with more animation, but that we should
supplicate with better hopes. We are mistaken. We have an enemy to
deal with who never regarded our contest as a measuring and weighing
of purses. He is the Gaul that puts his SWORD into the scale. He is
more tempted with our wealth as booty, than terrified with it as
power. But let us be rich or poor, let us be either in what
proportion we may, nature is false or this is true, that where the
essential public force (of which money is but a part) is in any
degree upon a par in a conflict between nations, that state, which is
resolved to hazard its existence rather than to abandon its objects,
must have an infinite advantage over that which is resolved to yield
rather than to carry its resistance beyond a certain point. Humanly
speaking, that people which bounds its efforts only with its being,
must give the law to that nation which will not push its opposition
beyond its convenience.


On this their gaudy day the new regicide Directory sent for their
diplomatic rabble, as bad as themselves in principle, but infinitely
worse in degradation. They called them out by a sort of roll of their
nations, one after another, much in the manner in which they called
wretches out of their prison to the guillotine. When these ambassadors
of infamy appeared before them, the chief director, in the name of the
rest, treated each of them with a short, affected, pedantic, insolent,
theatric laconium: a sort of epigram of contempt. When they had thus
insulted them in a style and language which never before was heard, and
which no sovereign would for a moment endure from another, supposing any
of them frantic enough to use it; to finish their outrage, they drummed
and trumpeted the wretches out of their hall of audience.

Among the objects of this insolent buffoonery was a person supposed to
represent the king of Prussia. To this worthy representative they did
not so much as condescend to mention his master; they did not seem to
know that he had one; they addressed themselves solely to Prussia in the
abstract, notwithstanding the infinite obligation they owed to their
early protector for their first recognition and alliance, and for the
part of his territory he gave into their hands for the first-fruits of
his homage. None but dead monarchs are so much as mentioned by them, and
those only to insult the living by an invidious comparison. They told
the Prussians they ought to learn, after the example of Frederick the
Great, a love for France. What a pity it is, that he, who loved France
so well as to chastise it, was not now alive, by an unsparing use of the
rod (which indeed he would have spared little) to give them another
instance of his paternal affection. But the Directory were mistaken.
These are not days in which monarchs value themselves upon the title of
GREAT: they are grown PHILOSOPHIC: they are satisfied to be good. Your
lordship will pardon me for this no very long reflection on the short
but excellent speech of the plumed director to the ambassador of
Cappadocia. The imperial ambassador was not in waiting, but they found
for Austria a good Judean representation. With great judgment his
highness the Grand Duke had sent the most atheistic coxcomb to be found
in Florence to represent, at the bar of impiety, the house of apostolic
majesty, and the descendants of the pious, though high-minded, Maria
Theresa. He was sent to humble the whole race of Austria before those
grim assassins, reeking with the blood of the daughter of Maria Theresa,
whom they sent, half-dead, in a dung-cart, to a cruel execution; and
this true-born son of apostasy and infidelity, this renegado from the
faith, and from all honour and all humanity, drove an Austrian coach
over the stones which were yet wet with her blood;--with that blood
which dropped every step through her tumbril, all the way she was drawn
from the horrid prison, in which they had finished all the cruelty and
horrors, not executed in the face of the sun! The Hungarian subjects of
Maria Theresa, when they drew their swords to defend her rights against
France, called her, with correctness of truth, though not with the same
correctness, perhaps, of grammar, a king: Moriamur pro rege nostro Maria
Theresa.--She lived and died a king, and others will have subjects ready
to make the same vow, when, in either sex, they show themselves real


When you choose an arduous and slippery path, God forbid that any weak
feelings of my declining age, which calls for soothings and supports,
and which can have none but from you, should make me wish that you
should abandon what you are about, or should trifle with it. In this
house we submit, though with troubled minds, to that order which has
connected all great duties with toils and with perils, which has
conducted the road to glory through the regions of obloquy and reproach,
and which will never suffer the disparaging alliance of spurious, false,
and fugitive praise with genuine and permanent reputation. We know that
the Power which has settled that order, and subjected you to it by
placing you in the situation you are in, is able to bring you out of it
with credit and with safety. His will be done. All must come right. You
may open the way with pain, and under reproach. Others will pursue it
with ease and with applause.


They have murdered one Robespierre. This Robespierre they tell us
was a cruel tyrant, and now that he is put out of the way, all will
go well in France. Astraea will again return to that earth from which
she has been an emigrant, and all nations will resort to her golden
scales. It is very extraordinary, that the very instant the mode of
Paris is known here, it becomes all the fashion in London. This is
their jargon. It is the old bon ton of robbers, who cast their common
crimes on the wickedness of their departed associates. I care little
about the memory of this same Robespierre. I am sure he was an
execrable villain. I rejoiced at his punishment neither more nor less
than I should at the execution of the present Directory, or any of
its members. But who gave Robespierre the power of being a tyrant?
and who were the instruments of his tyranny? The present virtuous
constitution-mongers. He was a tyrant, they were his satellites and
his hangmen. Their sole merit is in the murder of their colleague.
They have expiated their other murders by a new murder. It has always
been the case among this banditti. They have always had the knife at
each other's throats, after they had almost blunted it at the throats
of every honest man. These people thought that, in the commerce of
murder, he was like to have the better of the bargain if any time was
lost; they therefore took one of their short revolutionary methods,
and massacred him in a manner so perfidious and cruel, as would shock
all humanity, if the stroke was not struck by the present rulers on
one of their own associates. But this last act of infidelity and
murder is to expiate all the rest, and to qualify them for the amity
of a humane and virtuous sovereign and civilized people. I have heard
that a Tartar believes, when he has killed a man, that all his
estimable qualities pass with his clothes and arms to the murderer:
but I have never heard that it was the opinion of any savage
Scythian, that, if he kills a brother villain, he is, ipso facto,
absolved of all his own offences. The Tartarian doctrine is the most
tenable opinion. The murderers of Robespierre, besides what they are
entitled to by being engaged in the same tontine of infamy, are his
representatives, have inherited all his murderous qualities in
addition to their own private stock. But it seems we are always to be
of a party with the last and victorious assassins. I confess I am of
a different mind, and am rather inclined, of the two, to think and
speak less hardly of a dead ruffian, than to associate with the
living. I could better bear the stench of the gibbeted murderer than
the society of the bloody felons who yet annoy the world. Whilst they
wait the recompense due to their ancient crimes, they merit new
punishment by the new offences they commit. There is a period to the
offences of Robespierre. They survive in his assassins. Better a
living dog, says the old proverb, than a dead lion; not so here.
Murderers and hogs never look well till they are hanged. From villany
no good can arise, but in the example of its fate. So I leave them
their dead Robespierre, either to gibbet his memory, or to deify him
in their Pantheon with their Marat and their Mirabeau.


There must be some impulse besides public spirit to put private interest
into motion along with it. Monied men ought to be allowed to set a value
on their money; if they did not, there could be no monied men. This
desire of accumulation is a principle without which the means of their
service to the state could not exist. The love of lucre, though
sometimes carried to a ridiculous, sometimes to a vicious excess, is the
grand cause of prosperity to all states. In this natural, this
reasonable, this powerful, this prolific principle, it is for the
satirist to expose the ridiculous: it is for the moralist to censure the
vicious; it is for the sympathetic heart to reprobate the hard and
cruel; it is for the judge to animadvert on the fraud, the extortion,
and the oppression; but it is for the statesman to employ it as he finds
it, with all its concomitant excellencies, with all its imperfections on
its head. It is his part, in this case, as it is in all other cases
where he is to make use of the general energies of nature, to take them
as he finds them.


With all these causes of corruption, we may well judge what the general
fashion of mind will be through both sexes and all conditions. Such
spectacles and such examples will overbear all the laws that ever
blackened the cumbrous volumes of our statutes. When royalty shall have
disavowed itself; when it shall have relaxed all the principles of its
own support; when it has rendered the system of regicide fashionable,
and received it as triumphant in the very persons who have consolidated
that system by the perpetration of every crime; who have not only
massacred the prince, but the very laws and magistrates which were the
support of royalty, and slaughtered, with an indiscriminate
proscription, without regard to either sex or age, every person that was
suspected of an inclination to king, law, or magistracy,--I say, will
any one dare to be loyal? Will any one presume, against both authority
and opinion, to hold up this unfashionable, antiquated, exploded
constitution? The Jacobin faction in England must grow in strength and
audacity; it will be supported by other intrigues, and supplied by other
resources than yet we have seen in action. Confounded at its growth, the
government may fly to parliament for its support. But who will answer
for the temper of a house of commons elected under these circumstances?
Who will answer for the courage of a house of commons to arm the crown
with the extraordinary powers that it may demand? But the ministers will
not venture to ask half of what they know they want. They will lose half
of that half in the contest: and when they have obtained their nothing,
they will be driven by the cries of faction either to demolish the
feeble works they have thrown up in a hurry, or, in effect, to abandon
them. As to the House of Lords, it is not worth mentioning. The peers
ought naturally to be the pillars of the crown; but when their titles
are rendered contemptible, and their property invidious, and a part of
their weakness, and not of their strength, they will be found so many
degraded and trembling individuals, who will seek by evasion to put off
the evil day of their ruin. Both houses will be in perpetual oscillation
between abortive attempts at energy, and still more unsuccessful
attempts at compromise. You will be impatient of your disease, and
abhorrent of your remedy. A spirit of subterfuge and a tone of apology
will enter into all your proceedings, whether of law or legislation.
Your judges, who now sustain so masculine an authority, will appear more
on their trial than the culprits they have before them. The awful frown
of criminal justice will be smoothed into the silly smile of seduction.
Judges will think to insinuate and soothe the accused into conviction
and condemnation, and to wheedle to the gallows the most artful of all
delinquents. But they will not be so wheedled. They will not submit even
to the appearance of persons on their trial. Their claim to this
exception will be admitted. The place in which some of the greatest
names which ever distinguished the history of this country have stood,
will appear beneath their dignity. The criminal will climb from the dock
to the side-bar, and take his place and his tea with the counsel. From
the bar of the counsel, by a natural progress, he will ascend to the
bench, which long before had been virtually abandoned. They who escape
from justice will not suffer a question upon reputation. They will take
the crown of the causeway: they will be revered as martyrs; they will
triumph as conquerors. Nobody will dare to censure that popular part of
the tribunal, whose only restraint on misjudgment is the censure of the
public. They who find fault with the decision will be represented as
enemies to the institution. Juries that convict for the crown will be
loaded with obloquy. The juries who acquit will be held up as models of
justice. If parliament orders a prosecution, and fails (as fail it
will), it will be treated to its face as guilty of a conspiracy
maliciously to prosecute. Its care in discovering a conspiracy against
the state will be treated as a forged plot to destroy the liberty of the
subject; every such discovery, instead of strengthening government, will
weaken its reputation.

In this state things will be suffered to proceed, lest measures of
vigour should precipitate a crisis. The timid will act thus from
character; the wise from necessity. Our laws had done all that the old
condition of things dictated to render our judges erect and independent;
but they will naturally fail on the side upon which they had taken no
precautions. The judicial magistrates will find themselves safe as
against the crown, whose will is not their tenure; the power of
executing their office will be held at the pleasure of those who deal
out fame or abuse as they think fit. They will begin rather to consult
their own repose and their own popularity, than the critical and
perilous trust that is in their hands. They will speculate on
consequences when they see at court an ambassador whose robes are lined
with a scarlet dyed in the blood of judges. It is no wonder, nor are
they to blame, when they are to consider how they shall answer for their
conduct to the criminal of to?day turned into the magistrate of


Is it only an oppressive nightmare with which we have been loaded? Is it
then all a frightful dream, and are there no regicides in the world?
Have we not heard of that prodigy of a ruffian, who would not suffer his
benignant sovereign, with his hands tied behind him, and stripped for
execution, to say one parting word to his deluded people;--of Santerre,
who commanded the drums and trumpets to strike up to stifle his voice,
and dragged him backward to the machine of murder? This nefarious
villain (for a few days I may call him so) stands high in France, as in
a republic of robbers and murderers he ought. What hinders this monster
from being sent as ambassador to convey to his majesty the first
compliments of his brethren, the regicide Directory? They have none that
can represent them more properly. I anticipate the day of his arrival.
He will make his public entry into London on one of the pale horses of
his brewery. As he knows that we are pleased with the Paris taste for
the orders of knighthood, he will fling a bloody sash across his
shoulders with the order of the Holy Guillotine, surmounting the Crown,
appendant to the riband. Thus adorned, he will proceed from Whitechapel
to the further end of Pall Mall, all the music of London playing the
Marseillais hymn before him, and escorted by a chosen detachment of the
Legion de l'Echaffaud. It were only to be wished, that no ill-fated
loyalist for the imprudence of his zeal may stand in the pillory at
Charing Cross, under the statue of King Charles the First, at the time
of this grand procession, lest some of the rotten eggs, which the
constitutional society shall let fly at his indiscreet head, may hit the
virtuous murderer of his king. They might soil the state dress, which
the ministers of so many crowned heads have admired, and in which Sir
Clement Cotterel is to introduce him at St. James's.

If Santerre cannot be spared from the constitutional butcheries at home,
Tallien may supply his place, and, in point of figure, with advantage.
He has been habituated to commissions; and he is as well qualified as
Santerre for this. Nero wished the Roman people had but one neck. The
wish of the more exalted Tallien, when he sat in judgment, was, that his
sovereign had eighty-three heads, that he might send one to every one of
the departments. Tallien will make an excellent figure at Guildhall at
the next sheriff's feast. He may open the ball with my Lady Mayoress.
But this will be after he has retired from the public table, and gone
into the private room for the enjoyment of more social and unreserved
conversation with the ministers of state and the judges of the bench.
There these ministers and magistrates will hear him entertain the worthy
aldermen with an instructing and pleasing narrative of the manner in
which he made the rich citizens of Bordeaux squeak, and gently led them
by the public credit of the guillotine to disgorge their
anti-revolutionary pelf.

All this will be the display, and the town-talk, when our regicide is on
a visit of ceremony. At home nothing will equal the pomp and splendour
of the Hotel de la Republique. There another scene of gaudy grandeur
will be opened. When his citizen excellency keeps the festival, which
every citizen is ordered to observe, for the glorious execution of Louis
the Sixteenth, and renews his oath of detestation of kings, a grand
ball, of course, will be given on the occasion. Then what a
hurly-burly;--what a crowding;--what a glare of a thousand flambeaux in
the square;--what a clamour of footmen contending at the door;--what a
rattling of a thousand coaches of duchesses, countesses, and Lady Marys,
choking the way, and overturning each other, in a struggle who should be
first to pay her court to the Citoyenne, the spouse of the twenty-first
husband, he the husband of the thirty-first wife, and to hail her in the
rank of honourable matrons, before the four days' duration of marriage
is expired!--Morals, as they were:--decorum, the great outguard of the
sex, and the proud sentiment of honour, which makes virtue more
respectable where it is, and conceals human frailty where virtue may not
be, will be banished from this land of propriety, modesty, and reserve.


This officer having attempted, with great gallantry, to cut out a
vessel from one of the enemy's harbours, was taken after an obstinate
resistance, such as obtained him the marked respect of those who were
witnesses of his valour, and knew the circumstances in which it was
displayed. Upon his arrival at Paris, he was instantly thrown into
prison; where the nature of his situation will best be understood, by
knowing, that amongst its MITIGATIONS, was the permission to walk
occasionally in the court, and to enjoy the privilege of shaving
himself. On the old system of feelings and principles, his sufferings
might have been entitled to consideration, and even in a comparison
with those of citizen La Fayette, to a priority in the order of
compassion. If the ministers had neglected to take any steps in his
favour, a declaration of the sense of the House of Commons would have
stimulated them to their duty. If they had caused a representation to
be made, such a proceeding would have added force to it. If reprisal
should be thought advisable, the address of the House would have
given an additional sanction to a measure which would have been,
indeed, justifiable without any other sanction than its own reason.
But, no. Nothing at all like it. In fact, the merit of Sir Sydney
Smith, and his claim on British compassion, was of a kind altogether
different from that which interested so deeply the authors of the
motion in favour of citizen La Fayette. In my humble opinion, Captain
Sir Sydney Smith has another sort of merit with the British nation,
and something of a higher claim on British humanity, than citizen La
Fayette. Faithful, zealous, and ardent, in the service of his king
and country; full of spirit; full of resources; going out of the
beaten road, but going right, because his uncommon enterprise was not
conducted by a vulgar judgment;--in his profession, Sir Sydney Smith
might be considered as a distinguished person, if any person could
well be distinguished in a service in which scarcely a commander can
be named without putting you in mind of some action of intrepidity,
skill, and vigilance, that has given them a fair title to contend
with any men, and in any age. But I will say nothing farther of the
merits of Sir Sydney Smith: the mortal animosity of the regicide
enemy supersedes all other panegyric. Their hatred is a judgment in
his favour without appeal. At present he is lodged in the tower of
the Temple, the last prison of Louis the Sixteenth, and the last but
one of Maria Antonietta of Austria; the prison of Louis the
Seventeenth; the prison of Elizabeth of Bourbon. There he lies,
unpitied by the grand philanthropy, to meditate upon the fate of
those who are faithful to their king and country. Whilst this
prisoner, secluded from intercourse, was indulging in these cheering
reflections, he might possibly have had the further consolation of
learning (by means of the insolent exultation of his guards), that
there was an English ambassador at Paris; he might have had the proud
comfort of hearing, that this ambassador had the honour of passing
his mornings in respectful attendance at the office of a regicide
pettifogger; and that in the evening he relaxed in the amusements of
the opera, and in the spectacle of an audience totally new; an
audience in which he had the pleasure of seeing about him not a
single face that he could formerly have known in Paris; but in the
place of that company, one indeed more than equal to it in display of
gaiety, splendour, and luxury; a set of abandoned wretches,
squandering in insolent riot the spoils of their bleeding country. A
subject of profound reflection both to the prisoner and to the


I think we might have found, before the rude hand of insolent office was
on our shoulder, and the staff of usurped authority brandished over our
heads, that contempt of the suppliant is not the best forwarder of a
suit; that national disgrace is not the high road to security, much less
to power and greatness. Patience, indeed, strongly indicates the love of
peace; but mere love does not always lead to enjoyment. It is the power
of winning that palm which ensures our wearing it. Virtues have their
place; and out of their place they hardly deserve the name. They pass
into the neighbouring vice. The patience of fortitude and the endurance
of pusillanimity are things very different, as in their principle, so in
their effects.


In the revolution of France two sorts of men were principally concerned
in giving a character and determination to its pursuits: the
philosophers and the politicians. They took different ways, but they met
in the same end. The philosophers had one predominant object, which they
pursued with a fanatical fury; that is, the utter extirpation of
religion. To that every question of empire was subordinate. They had
rather domineer in a parish of atheists than rule over a Christian
world. Their temporal ambition was wholly subservient to their
proselytizing spirit, in which they were not exceeded by Mahomet
himself. They who have made but superficial studies in the natural
history of the human mind, have been taught to look on religious
opinions as the only cause of enthusiastic zeal and sectarian
propagation. But there is no doctrine whatever, on which men can warm,
that is not capable of the very same effect. The social nature of man
impels him to propagate his principles, as much as physical impulses
urge him to propagate his kind. The passions give zeal and vehemence.
The understanding bestows design and system. The whole man moves under
the discipline of his opinions. Religion is among the most powerful
causes of enthusiasm. When anything concerning it becomes an object of
much meditation, it cannot be indifferent to the mind. They who do not
love religion, hate it. The rebels to God perfectly abhor the author of
their being. They hate him "with all their heart, with all their mind,
with all their soul, and with all their strength." He never presents
himself to their thoughts, but to menace and alarm them. They cannot
strike the sun out of heaven, but they are able to raise a smouldering
smoke that obscures him from their own eyes. Not being able to revenge
themselves on God, they have a delight in vicariously defacing,
degrading, torturing, and tearing in pieces his image in man. Let no one
judge of them by what he has conceived of them, when they were not
incorporated, and had no lead. They were then only passengers in a
common vehicle. They were then carried along with the general motion of
religion in the community, and, without being aware of it, partook of
its influence. In that situation, at worst, their nature was left free
to counter-work their principles. They despaired of giving any very
general currency to their opinions. They considered them as a reserved
privilege for the chosen few. But when the possibility of dominion,
lead, and propagation, presented itself, and that the ambition, which
before had so often made them hypocrites, might rather gain than lose by
a daring avowal of their sentiments, then the nature of this infernal
spirit, which has "evil for its good," appeared in its full perfection.
Nothing indeed but the possession of some power can with any certainty
discover what at the bottom is the true character of any man. Without
reading the speeches of Vergniaud, Francian of Nantes, Isnard, and some
others of that sort, it would not be easy to conceive the passion,
rancour, and malice of their tongues and hearts. They worked themselves
up to a perfect frenzy against religion and all its professors. They
tore the reputation of the clergy to pieces by their infuriated
declamations and invectives, before they lacerated their bodies by their
massacres. This fanatical atheism left out, we omit the principal
feature in the French revolution, and a principal consideration with
regard to the effects to be expected from a peace with it.

The other sort of men were the politicians. To them, who had little or
not at all reflected on the subject, religion was in itself no object of
love or hatred. They disbelieved it, and that was all. Neutral with
regard to that object, they took the side which in the present state of
things might best answer their purposes. They soon found that they could
not do without the philosophers; and the philosophers soon made them
sensible that the destruction of religion was to supply them with means
of conquest, first at home, and then abroad. The philosophers were the
active internal agitators, and supplied the spirit and principles: the
second gave the practical direction. Sometimes the one predominated in
the composition, sometimes the other. The only difference between them
was in the necessity of concealing the general design for a time, and in
their dealing with foreign nations; the fanatics going straightforward
and openly, the politicians by the surer mode of zigzag. In the course
of events, this, among other causes, produced fierce and bloody
contentions between them. But at the bottom they thoroughly agreed in
all the objects of ambition and irreligion, and substantially in all the
means of promoting these ends.


After such an elaborate display had been made of the injustice and
insolence of an enemy, who seems to have been irritated by every one
of the means which had been commonly used with effect to soothe the
rage of intemperate power, the natural result would be, that the
scabbard, in which we in vain attempted to plunge our sword, should
have been thrown away with scorn. It would have been natural that,
rising in the fulness of their might, insulted majesty, despised
dignity, violated justice, rejected supplication, patience goaded
into fury, would have poured out all the length of the reins upon all
the wrath which they had so long restrained. It might have been
expected that, emulous of the glory of the youthful hero in alliance
with him, touched by the example of what one man, well formed and
well placed, may do in the most desperate state of affairs, convinced
there is a courage of the cabinet full as powerful, and far less
vulgar than that of the field, our minister would have changed the
whole line of that useless, prosperous prudence, which had hitherto
produced all the effects of the blindest temerity. If he found his
situation full of danger (and I do not deny that it is perilous in
the extreme), he must feel that it is also full of glory; and that he
is placed on a stage, than which no muse of fire that had ascended
the highest heaven of invention could imagine anything more awful and
august. It was hoped that, in this swelling scene in which he moved
with some of the first potentates of Europe for his fellow-actors,
and with so many of the rest for the anxious spectators of a part,
which, as he plays it, determines for ever their destiny and his own,
like Ulysses in the unravelling point of the epic story, he would
have thrown off his patience and his rags together; and, stripped of
unworthy disguises, he would have stood forth in the form and in the
attitude of a hero. On that day it was thought he would have assumed
the port of Mars; that he would bid to be brought forth from their
hideous kennel (where his scrupulous tenderness had too long immured
them) those impatient dogs of war, whose fierce regards affright even
the minister of vengeance that feeds them; that he would let them
loose, in famine, fever, plagues, and death, upon a guilty race, to
whose frame, and to all whose habit, order, peace, religion, and
virtue are alien and abhorrent. It was expected that he would at last
have thought of active and effectual war; that he would no longer
amuse the British lion in the chase of mice and rats; that he would
no longer employ the whole naval power of Great Britain, once the
terror of the world, to prey upon the miserable remains of a peddling
commerce, which the enemy did not regard, and from which none could
profit. It was expected that he would have re-asserted the justice of
his cause; that he would have re-animated whatever remained to him of
his allies, and endeavoured to recover those whom their fears had led
astray; that he would have rekindled the martial ardour of his
citizens; that he would have held out to them the example of their
ancestry, the assertor of Europe, and the scourge of French ambition;
that he would have reminded them of a posterity, which, if this
nefarious robbery under the fraudulent name and false colour of a
government, should in full power be seated in the heart of Europe,
must for ever be consigned to vice, impiety, barbarism, and the most
ignominious slavery of body and mind. In so holy a cause it was
presumed that he would (as in the beginning of the war he did) have
opened all the temples; and with prayer, with fasting, and with
supplication (better directed than to the grim Moloch of regicide in
France), have called upon us to raise that united cry which has so
often stormed heaven, and with a pious violence forced down blessings
upon a repentant people. It was hoped that when he had invoked upon
his endeavours the favourable regard of the Protector of the human
race, it would be seen that his menaces to the enemy, and his prayers
to the Almighty, were not followed, but accompanied, with
correspondent action. It was hoped that his shrilling trumpet should
be heard, not to announce a show, but to sound a charge.


This violent breach in the community of Europe we must conclude to have
been made (even if they had not expressly declared it over and over
again) either to force mankind into an adoption of their system, or to
live in perpetual enmity with a community the most potent we have ever
known. Can any person imagine, that, in offering to mankind this
desperate alternative, there is no indication of a hostile mind, because
men in possession of the ruling authority are supposed to have a right
to act without coercion in their own territories. As to the right of men
to act anywhere according to their pleasure, without any moral tie, no
such right exists. Men are never in a state of TOTAL independence of
each other. It is not the condition of our nature: nor is it conceivable
how any man can pursue a considerable course of action without its
having some effect upon others; or, of course, without producing some
degree of responsibility for his conduct. The SITUATIONS in which men
relatively stand produce the rules and principles of that
responsibility, and afford directions to prudence in exacting it.
Distance of place does not extinguish the duties or the rights of men;
but it often renders their exercise impracticable. The same circumstance
of distance renders the noxious effects of an evil system in any
community less pernicious. But there are situations where this
difficulty does not occur; and in which, therefore, these duties are
obligatory, and these rights are to be asserted. It has ever been the
method of public jurists to draw a great part of the analogies, on which
they form the law of nations, from the principles of law which prevail
in civil community. Civil laws are not all of them merely positive.
Those, which are rather conclusions of legal reason than matters of
statutable provision, belong to universal equity, and are universally
applicable. Almost the whole praetorian law is such. There is a "Law of
Neighbourhood" which does not leave a man perfectly master on his own
ground. When a neighbour sees a NEW ERECTION, in the nature of a
nuisance, set up at his door, he has a right to represent it to the
judge; who, on his part, has a right to order the work to be stayed; or,
if established, to be removed. On this head the parent law is express
and clear, and has made many wise provisions, which, without destroying,
regulate and restrain the right of OWNERSHIP, by the right of VICINAGE.
No INNOVATION is permitted that may redound, even secondarily, to the
prejudice of a neighbour. The whole doctrine of that important head of
praetorian law, "De novi operis nunciatione," is founded on the
principle, that no NEW use should be made of a man's private liberty of
operating upon his private property, from whence a detriment may be
justly apprehended by his neighbour. This law of denunciation is
prospective. It is to anticipate what is called damnum infectum, or
damnum nondum factum, that is, a damage justly apprehended, but not
actually done. Even before it is clearly known whether the innovation be
damageable or not, the judge is competent to issue a prohibition to
innovate, until the point can be determined. This prompt interference is
grounded on principles favourable to both parties. It is preventive of
mischief difficult to be repaired, and of ill blood difficult to be
softened. The rule of law, therefore, which comes before the evil, is
amongst the very best parts of equity, and justifies the promptness of
the remedy; because, as it is well observed, Res damni infecti
celeritatem desiderat, et periculosa est dilatio. This right of
denunciation does not hold, when things continue, however inconveniently
to the neighbourhood, according to the ANCIENT mode. For there is a sort
of presumption against novelty, drawn out of a deep consideration of
human nature, and human affairs; and the maxim of jurisprudence is well
laid down, Vetustas pro lege semper habetur.

Such is the law of civil vicinity. Now where there is no constituted
judge, as between independent states there is not, the vicinage itself
is the natural judge. It is, preventively, the assertor of its own
rights, or remedially, their avenger. Neighbours are presumed to take
cognizance of each other's acts. "Vicini vicinorum facta praesumuntur
scire." This principle, which, like the rest, is as true of nations as
of individual men, has bestowed on the grand vicinage of Europe a duty
to know, and a right to prevent, any capital innovation which may amount
to the erection of a dangerous nuisance.


The operation of dangerous and delusive first principles obliges us to
have recourse to the true ones. In the intercourse between nations, we
are apt to rely too much on the instrumental part. We lay too much
weight upon the formality of treaties and compacts. We do not act much
more wisely when we trust to the interests of men as guarantees of their
engagements. The interests frequently tear to pieces the engagements;
and the passions trample upon both. Entirely to trust to either, is to
disregard our own safety, or not to know mankind. Men are not tied to
one another by papers and seals. They are led to associate by
resemblances, by conformities, by sympathies. It is with nations as with
individuals. Nothing is so strong a tie of amity between nation and
nation as correspondence in laws, customs, manners, and habits of life.
They have more than the force of treaties in themselves. They are
obligations written in the heart. They approximate men to men, without
their knowledge, and sometimes against their intentions. The secret,
unseen, but irrefragable bond of habitual intercourse holds them
together, even when their perverse and litigious nature sets them to
equivocate, scuffle, and fight, about the terms of their written
obligations. As to war, if it be the means of wrong and violence, it is
the sole means of justice amongst nations. Nothing can banish it from
the world. They who say otherwise, intending to impose upon us, do not
impose upon themselves. But it is one of the greatest objects of human
wisdom to mitigate those evils which we are unable to remove. The
conformity and analogy of which I speak, incapable, like everything
else, of preserving perfect trust and tranquillity among men, has a
strong tendency to facilitate accommodation, and to produce a generous
oblivion of the rancour of their quarrels. With this similitude, peace
is more of peace, and war is less of war. I will go further. There have
been periods of time in which communities, apparently in peace with each
other, have been more perfectly separated than, in latter times, many
nations in Europe have been in the course of long and bloody wars. The
cause must be sought in the similitude throughout Europe of religion,
laws, and manners. At bottom, these are all the same. The writers on
public law have often called this AGGREGATE of nations a commonwealth.
They had reason. It is virtually one great state having the same basis
of general law, with some diversity of provincial customs and local
establishments. The nations of Europe have had the very same Christian
religion, agreeing in the fundamental parts, varying a little in the
ceremonies and in the subordinate doctrines. The whole of the polity and
economy of every country in Europe has been derived from the same
sources. It was drawn from the old Germanic or Gothic custumary, from
the feudal institutions which must be considered as an emanation from
that custumary; and the whole has been improved and digested into system
and discipline by the Roman law. From hence arose the several orders,
with or without a monarch (which are called states), in every European
country; the strong traces of which, where monarchy predominated, were
never wholly extinguished or merged in despotism. In the few places
where monarchy was cast off, the spirit of European monarchy was still
left. Those countries still continued countries of states; that is, of
classes, orders, and distinctions such as had before subsisted, or
nearly so. Indeed, the force and form of the institution called states
continued in greater perfection in those republican communities than
under monarchies. From all those sources arose a system of manners and
of education which was nearly similar in all this quarter of the globe;
and which softened, blended, and harmonized the colours of the whole.


The same temper which brings us to solicit a Jacobin peace, will
induce us to temporize with all the evils of it. By degrees our minds
will be made to our circumstances. The novelty of such things, which
produces half the horror, and all the disgust, will be worn off. Our
ruin will be disguised in profit, and the sale of a few wretched
baubles will bribe a degenerate people to barter away the most
precious jewel of their souls. Our constitution is not made for this
kind of warfare. It provides greatly for our happiness,--it furnishes
few means for our defence. It is formed, in a great measure, upon the
principle of jealousy of the crown; and, as things stood when it took
that turn, with very great reason. I go further; it must keep alive
some part of that fire of jealousy eternally and chastely burning, or
it cannot be the British constitution. At various periods we have had
tyranny in this country, more than enough. We have had rebellions,
with more or less justification. Some of our kings have made
adulterous connections abroad, and trucked away for foreign gold the
interests and glory of their crown. But before this time our liberty
has never been corrupted. I mean to say, that it has never been
debauched from its domestic relations. To this time it has been
English liberty, and English liberty only. Our love of liberty and
our love of our country were not distinct things. Liberty is now, it
seems, put upon a larger and more liberal bottom. We are men, and as
men, undoubtedly nothing human is foreign to us. We cannot be too
liberal in our general wishes for the happiness of our kind. But in
all questions on the mode of procuring it for any particular
community, we ought to be fearful of admitting those who have no
interest in it, or who have, perhaps, an interest against it, into
the consultation. Above all, we cannot be too cautious in our
communication with those who seek their happiness by other roads than
those of humanity, morals, and religion, and whose liberty consists,
and consists alone, in being free from those restraints which are
imposed by the virtues upon the passions.

When we invite danger from a confidence in defensive measures, we ought,
first of all, to be sure that it is a species of danger against which
any defensive measures that can be adopted will be sufficient. Next we
ought to know that the spirit of our laws, or that our own dispositions,
which are stronger than laws, are susceptible of all those defensive
measures which the occasion may require. A third consideration is,
whether these measures will not bring more odium than strength to
government; and the last, whether the authority that makes them, in a
general corruption of manners and principles, can insure their
execution? Let no one argue from the state of things, as he sees them at
present, concerning what will be the means and capacities of government,
when the time arrives, which shall call for remedies commensurate to
enormous evils.

It is an obvious truth that no constitution can defend itself: it must
be defended by the wisdom and fortitude of men. These are what no
constitution can give: they are the gifts of God; and he alone knows
whether we shall possess such gifts at the time when we stand in need of
them. Constitutions furnish the civil means of getting at the natural;
it is all that in this case they can do. But our constitution has more
impediments than helps. Its excellencies, when they come to be put to
this sort of proof, may be found among its defects.

Nothing looks more awful and imposing than an ancient fortification. Its
lofty, embattled walls, its bold, projecting, rounded towers, that
pierce the sky, strike the imagination, and promise inexpugnable
strength. But they are the very things that make its weakness. You may
as well think of opposing one of these old fortresses to the mass of
artillery brought by a French irruption into the field, as to think of
resisting, by your old laws, and your old forms, the new destruction
which the corps of Jacobin engineers of to-day prepare for all such
forms and all such laws. Besides the debility and false principle of
their construction to resist the present modes of attack, the fortress
itself is in ruinous repair, and there is a practicable breach in every
part of it.

Such is the work. But miserable works have been defended by the
constancy of the garrison. Weather-beaten ships have been brought safe
to port by the spirit and alertness of the crew. But it is here that we
shall eminently fail. The day that, by their consent, the seat of
regicide has its place among the thrones of Europe, there is no longer a
motive for zeal in their favour; it will at best be cold, unimpassioned,
dejected, melancholy duty. The glory will seem all on the other side.
The friends of the crown will appear, not as champions, but as victims;
discountenanced, mortified, lowered, defeated, they will fall into
listlessness and indifference. They will leave things to take their
course; enjoy the present hour, and submit to the common fate.


Your throne cannot stand secure upon the principles of unconditional
submission and passive obedience; on powers exercised without the
concurrence of the people to be governed; on acts made in defiance of
their prejudices and habits; on acquiescence procured by foreign
mercenary troops, and secured by standing armies. These may possibly
be the foundation of other thrones: they must be the subversion of
yours. It was not to passive principles in our ancestors that we owe
the honour of appearing before a sovereign, who cannot feel that he
is a prince, without knowing that we ought to be free. The revolution
is a departure from the ancient course of the descent of this
monarchy. The people at that time re-entered into their original
rights; and it was not because a positive law authorized what was
then done, but because the freedom and safety of the subject, the
origin and cause of all laws, required a proceeding paramount and
superior to them. At that ever-memorable and instructive period, the
letter of the law was superseded in favour of the substance of
liberty. To the free choice, therefore, of the people, without
either king or parliament, we owe that happy establishment, out of
which both king and parliament were regenerated. From that great
principle of liberty have originated the statutes, confirming and
ratifying the establishment, from which your majesty derives your
right to rule over us. Those statutes have not given us our
liberties; our liberties have produced them. Every hour of your
majesty's reign your title stands upon the very same foundation on
which it was at first laid; and we do not know a better on which it
can possibly be placed.

Convinced, sir, that you cannot have different rights and a different
security in different parts of your dominions, we wish to lay an even
platform for your throne; and to give it an unmovable stability, by
laying it on the general freedom of your people; and by securing to your
majesty that confidence and affection in all parts of your dominions,
which makes your best security and dearest title in this the chief seat
of your empire.

Such, sir, being amongst us the foundation of monarchy itself, much more
clearly and much more peculiarly is it the ground of all parliamentary
power. Parliament is a security provided for the protection of freedom,
and not a subtile fiction, contrived to amuse the people in its place.
The authority of both houses can, still less than that of the crown, be
supported upon different principles in different places, so as to be,
for one part of your subjects, a protector of liberty, and for another a
fund of despotism, through which prerogative is extended by occasional
powers, whenever an arbitrary will finds itself straitened by the
restrictions of law. Had it seemed good to parliament to consider itself
as the indulgent guardian and strong protector of the freedom of the
subordinate popular assemblies, instead of exercising its power to their
annihilation, there is no doubt that it never could have been their
inclination, because not their interest, to raise questions on the
extent of parliamentary rights, or to enfeeble privileges which were the
security of their own. Powers evident from necessity, and not suspicious
from an alarming mode or purpose in the exertion, would, as formerly
they were, be cheerfully submitted to; and these would have been fully
sufficient for conservation of unity in the empire, and for directing
its wealth to one common centre. Another use has produced other
consequences; and a power which refuses to be limited by moderation must
either be lost, or find other more distinct and satisfactory


He had undertaken to demonstrate by arguments which he thought could
not be refuted, and by documents which he was sure could not be
denied, that no comparison was to be made between the British
government and the French usurpation. That they who endeavoured madly
to compare them, were by no means making the comparison of one good
system with another good system, which varied only in local and
circumstantial differences; much less, that they were holding out to
us a superior pattern of legal liberty, which we might substitute in
the place of our old, and, as they described it, superannuated
constitution. He meant to demonstrate that the French scheme was not
a comparative good, but a positive evil. That the question did not at
all turn, as had been stated, on a parallel between a monarchy and a
republic. He denied that the present scheme of things in France did
at all deserve the respectable name of a republic: he had therefore
no comparison between monarchies and republics to make. That what was
done in France was a wild attempt to methodize anarchy; to perpetuate
and fix disorder. That it was a foul, impious, monstrous thing,
wholly out of the course of moral nature. He undertook to prove that
it was generated in treachery, fraud, falsehood, hypocrisy, and
unprovoked murder. He offered to make out that those who had led in
that business had conducted themselves with the utmost perfidy to
their colleagues in function, and with the most flagrant perjury both
towards their king and their constituents; to the one of whom the
Assembly had sworn fealty, and to the other, when under no sort of
violence or constraint, they had sworn a full obedience to
instructions.--That, by the terror of assassination, they had driven
away a very great number of the members, so as to produce a false
appearance of a majority.--That this fictitious majority had
fabricated a constitution, which, as now it stands, is a tyranny far
beyond any example that can be found in the civilized European world
of our age; that therefore the lovers of it must be lovers, not of
liberty, but if they really understand its nature, of the lowest and
basest of all servitude.

He proposed to prove that the present state of things in France is not a
transient evil, productive, as some have too favourably represented it,
of a lasting good; but that the present evil is only the means of
producing future and (if that were possible) worse evils.--That it is
not an undigested, imperfect, and crude scheme of liberty, which may
gradually be mellowed and ripened into an orderly and social freedom;
but that it is so fundamentally wrong, as to be utterly incapable of
correcting itself by any length of time, or of being formed into any
mode of polity of which a member of the House of Commons could publicly
declare his approbation.


I ever looked on Lord Keppel as one of the greatest and best men of his
age; and I loved and cultivated him accordingly. He was much in my
heart, and I believe I was in his to the very last beat. It was at his
trial at Portsmouth that he gave me this picture. With what zeal and
anxious affection I attended him through that his agony of glory, what
part my son took in the early flush and enthusiasm of his virtue, and
the pious passion with which he attached himself to all my connections,
with what prodigality we both squandered ourselves in courting almost
every sort of enmity for his sake, I believe he felt, just as I should
have felt such friendship on such an occasion. I partook indeed of this
honour with several of the first, and best, and ablest in the kingdom,
but I was behindhand with none of them; and I am sure, that if to the
eternal disgrace of this nation, and to the total annihilation of every
trace of honour and virtue in it, things had taken a different turn from
what they did, I should have attended him to the quarter-deck with no
less good-will and more pride, though with far other feelings, than I
partook of the general flow of national joy that attended the justice
that was done to his virtue.

Pardon, my lord, the feeble garrulity of age, which loves to diffuse
itself in discourse of the departed great. At my years we live in
retrospect alone; and, wholly unfitted for the society of vigorous life,
we enjoy, the best balm to all wounds, the consolation of friendship in
those only whom we have lost for ever. Feeling the loss of Lord Keppel
at all times, at no time did I feel it so much as on the first day when
I was attacked in the House of Lords.

Had he lived, that reverend form would have risen in its place, and,
with a mild, parental reprehension to his nephew the duke of Bedford, he
would have told him that the favour of that gracious prince, who had
honoured his virtues with the government of the navy of Great Britain,
and with a seat in the hereditary great council of his kingdom, was not
undeservedly shown to the friend of the best portion of his life, and
his faithful companion and counsellor under his rudest trials. He would
have told him, that to whomever else these reproaches might be becoming,
they were not decorous in his near kindred. He would have told him that
when men in that rank lose decorum they lose everything. On that day I
had a loss in Lord Keppel; but the public loss of him in this awful
crisis--! I speak from much knowledge of the person, he never would have
listened to any compromise with the rabble rout of this sans-culotterie
of France. His goodness of heart, his reason, his taste, his public
duty, his principles, his prejudices, would have repelled him for ever
from all connection with that horrid medley of madness, vice, impiety,
and crime.

Lord Keppel had two countries; one of descent, and one of birth. Their
interest and their glory are the same; and his mind was capacious of
both. His family was noble, and it was Dutch: that is, he was the oldest
and purest nobility that Europe can boast, among a people renowned above
all others for love of their native land. Though it was never shown in
insult to any human being, Lord Keppel was something high. It was a wild
stock of pride, on which the tenderest of all hearts had grafted the
milder virtues. He valued ancient nobility; and he was not disinclined
to augment it with new honours. He valued the old nobility and the new,
not as an excuse for inglorious sloth, but as an incitement to virtuous
activity. He considered it as a sort of cure for selfishness and a
narrow mind; conceiving that a man born in an elevated place in himself
was nothing, but everything in what went before, and what was to come
after him. Without much speculation, but by the sure instinct of
ingenuous feelings, and by the dictates of plain, unsophisticated,
natural understanding, he felt that no great commonwealth could by any
possibility long subsist without a body of some kind or other of
nobility, decorated with honour, and fortified by privilege. This
nobility forms the chain that connects the ages of a nation, which
otherwise (with Mr. Paine) would soon be taught that no one generation
can bind another. He felt that no political fabric could be well made
without some such order of things as might, through a series of time,
afford a rational hope of securing unity, coherence, consistency, and
stability to the state. He felt that nothing else can protect it against
the levity of courts, and the greater levity of the multitude. That to
talk of hereditary monarchy, without anything else of hereditary
reverence in the commonwealth, was a low-minded absurdity, fit only for
those detestable "fools aspiring to be knaves," who began to forge in
1789 the false money of the French constitution.--That it is one fatal
objection to all NEW fancied and NEW FABRICATED republics (among a
people who, once possessing such an advantage, have wickedly and
insolently rejected it), that the PREJUDICE of an old nobility is a
thing that CANNOT be made. It may be improved, it may be corrected, it
may be replenished: men may be taken from it or aggregated to it, but
the THING ITSELF is matter of INVETERATE opinion, and therefore CANNOT
be matter of mere positive institution. He felt that this nobility in
fact does not exist in wrong of other orders of the state, but by them,
and for them.


Let government protect and encourage industry, secure property, repress
violence, and discountenance fraud, it is all that they have to do. In
other respects, the less they meddle in these affairs the better; the
rest is in the hands of our Master and theirs. We are in a constitution
of things wherein--"Modo sol nimius, modo corripit imber." But I will
push this matter no further. As I have said a good deal upon it at
various times during my public service, and have lately written
something on it which may yet see the light, I shall content myself now
with observing, that the vigorous and laborious class of life has lately
got, from the bon ton of the humanity of this day, the name of the
"labouring poor." We have heard many plans for the relief of the
"labouring poor." This puling jargon is not as innocent as it is
foolish. In meddling with great affairs, weakness is never innoxious.
Hitherto the name of poor (in the sense in which it is used to excite
compassion) has not been used for those who can, but for those who
cannot, labour--for the sick and infirm, for orphan infancy, for
languishing and decrepit age: but when we affect to pity, as poor, those
who must labour, or the world cannot exist, we are trifling with the
condition of mankind. It is the common doom of man that he must eat his
bread by the sweat of his brow, that is, by the sweat of his body, or
the sweat of his mind. If this toil was inflicted as a curse, it is, as
might be expected from the curses of the Father of all blessings--it is
tempered with many alleviations, many comforts. Every attempt to fly
from it, and to refuse the very terms of our existence, becomes much
more truly a curse; and heavier pains and penalties fall upon those who
would elude the tasks which are put upon them by the great Master
Workman of the world, who, in his dealings with his creatures,
sympathizes with their weakness, and speaking of a creation wrought by
mere will out of nothing, speaks of six days of LABOUR and one of REST.
I do not call a healthy young man, cheerful in his mind, and vigorous in
his arms, I cannot call such a man POOR; I cannot pity my kind as a
kind, merely because they are men. This affected pity only tends to
dissatisfy them with their condition, and to teach them to seek
resources where no resources are to be found, in something else than
their own industry, and frugality, and sobriety. Whatever may be the
intention (which, because I do not know, I cannot dispute) of those who
would discontent mankind by this strange pity, they act towards us, in
the consequences, as if they were our worst enemies.


I beg leave to speak of our church establishment, which is the first of
our prejudices, not a prejudice destitute of reason, but involving in it
profound and extensive wisdom. I speak of it first. It is first, and
last, and midst in our minds. For, taking ground on that religious
system, of which we are now in possession, we continue to act on the
early received and uniformly continued sense of mankind. That sense not
only, like a wise architect, hath built up the august fabric of states,
but like a provident proprietor, to preserve the structure from
profanation and ruin, as a sacred temple purged from all the impurities
of fraud, and violence, and injustice, and tyranny, hath solemnly and
for ever consecrated the commonwealth, and all that officiate in it.
This consecration is made, that all who administer in the government of
men, in which they stand in the person of God himself, should have high
and worthy notions of their function and destination; that their hope
should be full of immortality; that they should not look to the paltry
pelf of the moment, nor to the temporary and transient praise of the
vulgar, but to a solid, permanent existence, in the permanent part of
their nature, and to a permanent fame and glory, in the example they
leave as a rich inheritance to the world.

Such sublime principles ought to be infused into persons of exalted
situations; and religious establishments provided, that may continually
revive and enforce them. Every sort of moral, every sort of civil, every
sort of politic institution, aiding the rational and natural ties that
connect the human understanding and affections to the divine, are not
more than necessary, in order to build up that wonderful structure, Man;
whose prerogative it is, to be in a great degree a creature of his own
making; and who, when made as he ought to be made, is destined to hold
no trivial place in the creation. But whenever man is put over men, as
the better nature ought ever to preside, in that case more particularly,
he should as nearly as possible be approximated to his perfection.

The consecration of the state, by a state religious establishment, is
necessary also to operate with a wholesome awe upon free citizens;
because in order to secure their freedom, they must enjoy some
determinate portion of power. To them therefore a religion connected
with the state, and with their duty towards it, becomes even more
necessary than in such societies, where the people, by the terms of
their subjection, are confined to private sentiments, and the management
of their own family concerns. All persons possessing any portion of
power ought to be strongly and awfully impressed with an idea that they
act in trust; and that they are to account for their conduct in that
trust to the one great Master, Author, and Founder of society. This
principle ought even to be more strongly impressed upon the minds of
those who compose the collective sovereignty, than upon those of single
princes. Without instruments, these princes can do nothing. Whoever uses
instruments, in finding helps, finds also impediments. Their power is
therefore by no means complete; nor are they safe in extreme abuse. Such
persons, however elevated by flattery, arrogance, and self-opinion, must
be sensible that whether covered or not by positive law, in some way or
other they are accountable even here for the abuse of their trust. If
they are not cut off by a rebellion of their people, they may be
strangled by the very janissaries kept for their security against all
other rebellion. Thus we have seen the king of France sold by his
soldiers for an increase of pay. But where popular authority is absolute
and unrestrained, the people have an infinitely greater, because a far
better founded, confidence in their own power. They are themselves, in a
great measure, their own instruments. They are nearer to their objects.
Besides, they are less under responsibility to one of the greatest
controlling powers on earth, the sense of fame and estimation. The share
of infamy, that is likely to fall to the lot of each individual in
public acts, is small indeed; the operation of opinion being in the
inverse ratio to the number of those who abuse power. Their own
approbation of their own acts has to them the appearance of a public
judgment in their favour. A perfect democracy is therefore the most
shameless thing in the world. As it is the most shameless, it is also
the most fearless. No man apprehends in his person that he can be made
subject to punishment. Certainly the people at large never ought: for as
all punishments are for example towards the conservation of the people
at large, the people at large can never become the subject of punishment
by any human hand. (Quicquid multis peccatur inultum.) It is therefore
of infinite importance that they should not be suffered to imagine that
their will, any more than that of kings, is the standard of right and
wrong. They ought to be persuaded that they are full as little entitled,
and far less qualified, with safety to themselves, to use any arbitrary
power whatsoever; that therefore they are not, under a false show of
liberty, but in truth, to exercise an unnatural, inverted domination,
tyranically to exact from those who officiate in the state, not an
entire devotion to their interest, which is their right, but an abject
submission to their occasional will; extinguishing thereby, in all those
who serve them, all moral principle, all sense of dignity, all use of
judgment, and all consistency of character; whilst by the very same
process they give themselves up a proper, a suitable, but a most
contemptible prey to the servile ambition of popular sycophants, or
courtly flatterers.


Let those who have the trust of political or of natural authority
ever keep watch against the desperate enterprises of innovation: let
even their benevolence be fortified and armed. They have before their
eyes the example of a monarch, insulted, degraded, confined, deposed;
his family dispersed, scattered, imprisoned; his wife insulted to his
face like the vilest of the sex, by the vilest of all populace;
himself three times dragged by these wretches in an infamous triumph;
his children torn from him, in violation of the first right of
nature, and given into the tuition of the most desperate and impious
of the leaders of desperate and impious clubs; his revenues
dilapidated and plundered; his magistrates murdered; his clergy
proscribed, persecuted, famished; his nobility degraded in their
rank, undone in their fortunes, fugitives in their persons; his
armies corrupted and ruined; his whole people impoverished,
disunited, dissolved; whilst through the bars of his prison, and
amidst the bayonets of his keepers, he hears the tumult of two
conflicting factions, equally wicked and abandoned, who agree in

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